Natasha Dow Schüll Recieves Honorable Mention for “Addiction by Design”

Natasha Dow Schüll – Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas
Honorable Mention for the 2013 Gregory Bateson Prize, The Society for Cultural Anthropology

The Bateson Prize is designed to reward work that is theoretically rich, ethnographically grounded, and in the spirit of the tradition for which the SCA has become known-interdisciplinary, experimental, and innovative.

“Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas (Princeton University Press) by Natasha Dow Schüll offers a simultaneously critical and empathetic account of the world of machine gambling and machine-human interface, more generally. Schüll richly documents the crafting of an interiority that is highly attractive to the gambler and very profitable for the gaming companies and offers a comprehensive analysis of this deeply disturbing effort to engineer a psychic state through expert calibration of the human senses via machines. This highly engaging and accessible book is destined to serve as a model of ethnography for science and technology studies in the years to come.”

Addiction By DesignRecent decades have seen a dramatic shift away from social forms of gambling played around roulette wheels and card tables to solitary gambling at electronic terminals. Addiction by Design takes readers into the intriguing world of machine gambling, an increasingly popular and absorbing form of play that blurs the line between human and machine, compulsion and control, risk and reward.

Drawing on fifteen years of field research in Las Vegas, anthropologist Natasha Dow Schüll shows how the mechanical rhythm of electronic gambling pulls players into a trancelike state they call the “machine zone,” in which daily worries, social demands, and even bodily awareness fade away. Once in the zone, gambling addicts play not to win but simply to keep playing, for as long as possible–even at the cost of physical and economic exhaustion. In continuous machine play, gamblers seek to lose themselves while the gambling industry seeks profit. Schüll describes the strategic calculations behind game algorithms and machine ergonomics, casino architecture and “ambience management,” player tracking and cash access systems–all designed to meet the market’s desire for maximum “time on device.” Her account moves from casino floors into gamblers’ everyday lives, from gambling industry conventions and Gamblers Anonymous meetings to regulatory debates over whether addiction to gambling machines stems from the consumer, the product, or the interplay between the two.

Addiction by Design is a compelling inquiry into the intensifying traffic between people and machines of chance, offering clues to some of the broader anxieties and predicaments of contemporary life.

Natasha Dow Schüll is associate professor in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

#WhereInNYC Photo Quiz 5 — solution

Yesterday we challenged you to put your NYC knowledge to the test and tell us where this picture was taken:

quiz

 

Here’s the uncropped version of the picture:

solution

 

This beautiful spot is El Flamboyan Garden located at Tinton Avenue at 150th Street. It is a terrific example of the “greening of the city” that Bill Helmreich describes in The New York Nobody Knows.

#WhereInNYC Photo Quiz 5

We took a week off, but we’re back. Think you know everything there is to know about New York City? Try your hand at identifying where this photo was taken? Post your best guess here or on twitter:

quiz

 

This quiz is presented as we lead up to the publication of Bill Helmreich’s new book The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City. Sample a chapter here and check out The New Yorker’s recent story about going on a walk with Bill.

As featured in:

bookjacket

The New York Nobody Knows
Walking 6,000 Miles in the City
William B. Helmreich

Read chapter 1: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s10060.pdf

Toward a public health approach — a new proposal for our response to Alzheimer’s Disease from medical anthropologist Margaret Lock

This video from the Alzheimer’s Association gives a sense of the magnitude of the Alzheimer’s Disease epidemic. We will soon publish The Alzheimer Conundrum by Margaret Lock that argues that the quest for a “silver bullet” cure or vaccine, while admirable is unlikely to be successful. To supplement these efforts, she makes the case for diverting some funds and time to developing a comprehensive public health approach that will improve the quality of life for Alzheimer’s patients and their caretakers and also lower costs that are estimated to be $203 billion dollars in 2013 and will balloon to $1.1 trillion by 2050.

Sample chapter 1 of The Alzheimer Conundrum and leave us your thoughts in the comments below.

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/BXnZt5VMjZY” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

#WhereInNYC Photo Quiz 4 — solution

We challenged you to identify this building (well really a corner of a building!), hinting that it was near a NYC landmark. There was a very subtle clue in the categories for which the post was tagged. Did you catch it?

quiz

How many of you figured out it was The Sutton?

solution

Gentrification comes to Harlem, writes Bill Helmreich in the caption for this photograph from The New York Nobody Knows. The building is the Sutton, hard by the Polo Grounds projects (hence the “Sports” category in the quiz post). Bradhurst Avenue, 145th to 155th Streets.

 

As featured in:

bookjacket The New York Nobody Knows
Walking 6,000 Miles in the City
William B. Helmreich
Read chapter 1: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s10060.pdf

 

#WhereInNYC Photo Quiz 4

Who can pinpoint this building near a New York landmark?

quiz

 

As featured in:

bookjacket

The New York Nobody Knows
Walking 6,000 Miles in the City
William B. Helmreich

Read chapter 1: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s10060.pdf

 

#WhereInNYC Photo Quiz 3 – Solution

We challenged readers to identify where this peace of art can be seen:

quiz

 

Did anyone guess it right? The fence is part of a larger mural at the Centro de La Paz (Center for Peace); motivating ghetto youth. 124th Street between Second and Third Avenues.

solution

As featured in:

bookjacket

The New York Nobody Knows
Walking 6,000 Miles in the City
William B. Helmreich

Read chapter 1: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s10060.pdf

 

The Alzheimer Enigma in an Ageing World

Margaret LockA lecture by Professor Margaret Lock , author of The Alzheimer Conundrum: Entanglements of Dementia and Aging and a Marjorie Bronfman Professor in Social Studies of Medicine, Emerita, Dept. of Social Studies of Medicine, McGill University, will be taking place on October 24th.

This lecture has been convened by Dr Sahra Gibbon to form part of UCL’s Festival of Ageing and is supported by UCL Science Medicine and Society Network and UCL Anthropology.

The event is free (you can register here) and will be taking place from 6:00-7:30 PM in Gordon Square, London. For more details about the event itself, click here or email human-wellbeing@ucl.ac.uk.

lock_alzheimer11111Alzheimer’s disease is increasingly described today as an epidemic, with estimates of 115 million cases worldwide by 2050. Less visible are the ongoing epistemological arguments in the medical world about the observed entanglements of AD type dementia with “normal” aging, and the repeated efforts to delineate what exactly constitutes this elusive yet devastating condition. In early 2011 official statements appeared in relevant medical journals about a so-called paradigm shift involving a move towards a preventative approach to AD in which the detection of biomarkers indicative of prodromal Alzheimer’s disease is central. In this talk I will discuss the significance of risk predictions associated with such biomarkers, and the irresolvable uncertainties such information raises for involved individuals and families.

 

#WhereInNYC Photo Quiz 3

Anyone care to venture where this peace of street art can be seen?

 

quiz
 

As featured in:

bookjacket

The New York Nobody Knows
Walking 6,000 Miles in the City
William B. Helmreich

Read chapter 1: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s10060.pdf

 

#WhereInNYC Photo Quiz 2 – Solution

We asked you where in NYC you can find Superman:

 

quiz

 

How many of you got this one right?

You can find Superman flying out of a house in Brooklyn surrounded by other icons of history in Brooklyn at Steve’s Place. 2056 Eighty-fifth Street.

solution

 

As featured in:

bookjacket

The New York Nobody Knows
Walking 6,000 Miles in the City
William B. Helmreich

Read chapter 1: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s10060.pdf

 

The New York Nobody Knows
Walking 6,000 Miles in the City
William B. Helmreich

Read chapter 1: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s10060.pdf

Words with friends: Writing collaboratively online

Ethnography and Virtual WorldsCan you imagine trying to write an entire book with three other people? Tom Boellstorff, Bonnie Nardi, Celia Pearce, and T. Taylor did just that when they co-authored Ethnography and Virtual Worlds: A Handbook of Method, a guide for students, teachers, designers, and scholars interested in using ethnographic methods to study online virtual worlds. Recently, the foursome wrote a piece for ACM interactions magazine that described the process of co-authoring the project together.

In the following excerpt from the article, the four explain how they decided to write the book as a collaborative effort and what sort of methods were needed to effectively do so:

Words with friends: Writing collaboratively online

In this article we detail primarily online collaborative authoring practices we have found to be of practical and conceptual interest. In 2012, the four of us published Ethnography and Virtual Worlds: A Handbook of Method []. Prior to composing this text, all of us had written book-length ethnographies of virtual worlds and for some time had frequently been asked, “How did you do it?” The Handbook allowed us to synthesize and draw out principles and practices for effective ethnographic research in virtual worlds, beyond the more truncated methodological discussions that appeared in our individual work.

In the wake of the Handbook’s publication, we encountered a new question: “How did you write a book with four authors?” This query typically emerged when the person realized the Handbook had been written as an entirely collaborative document, with a single authorial voice. Before settling on this format, we considered several other options, including producing an edited volume and composing chapters individually authored by each of us. We eventually decided these approaches would be inadequate given the broader shared themes, examples, and practical guidance we sought to provide. We instead chose to develop a shared narrative, writing the book in a single voice. Although all four of us had co-authored publications prior to the Handbook, none of us had co-authored a book-length text with so many collaborators.

The logistics of the collaboration were challenging from the outset. Because of our differing disciplinary backgrounds and varied academic homes (anthropology, computer science, media studies, and sociology), not to mention our locations at the time (Irvine, Atlanta, and Copenhagen), we had our work cut out for us. We had 80,000 words to jointly produce, for which our goal was achieving a single voice. We needed tools that would enable us to write, comment, rewrite, edit, discuss, and reach consensus.

We achieved our goal with a mix of synchronous and asynchronous collaboration methods. Aside from a small number of face-to-face meetings, we spent many hours in email and Skype discussing how best to present the principles of ethnographic research, how to clear up misconceptions regarding its scope and value, and how to reach a wide audience. Working toward these goals meant deciding which topics were most important (staying within our self-imposed mandate of a short “handbook”), refining a terminology for multiple constituencies, and balancing details about everyday ethnographic practice with big-picture issues regarding the place of ethnography in social inquiry. Though we at times had intense discussions over particular points, the process of working through our different perspectives and coming to consensus, crafting text that resonated for all authors such that each felt that they could stand behind the work, proved incredibly valuable.

The payoff was significant, particularly in drawing illustrative examples from our varied projects, as well as integrating diverse interdisciplinary literatures and perspectives. Here we discuss the means by which, after a good deal of trial and error, we found effective procedures for our collaboration. Our hope is that an explanation of our methods will be useful to other scholars and to software designers developing collaborative writing tools.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Tom Boellstorff is professor of anthropology at the University of California, Irvine. His books include Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human.
Bonnie Nardi is professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine. Her books include My Life as a Night Elf Priest: An Anthropological Account of World of Warcraft.
Celia Pearce is associate professor of digital media at Georgia Institute of Technology. Her books include Communities of Play: Emergent Cultures in Multiplayer Games and Virtual Worlds.
T. L. Taylor is associate professor of comparative media studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her books include Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture.

#WhereInNYC Photo Quiz 2

Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound…

Where in NYC does Superman fly?

 

quiz

 

As featured in:

bookjacket

The New York Nobody Knows
Walking 6,000 Miles in the City
William B. Helmreich

Read chapter 1: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s10060.pdf